A Rishi wandered from village to village, and from town to town, followed by a lone disciple.
The disciple, a restless young man, was in the habit of talking rashly and doing things which were not necessary. “My child, you must try to exercise some control over your speech and your actions,” the Rishi often reminded the disciple.
It was hot noon. The two travellers rested under a shed at the centre of a bazaar. Opposite was a grocer’s shop. At the moment there was no customer in the shop. The shop-keeper was looking into his stock of various goods and handling them idly. While doing so, he accidentally dipped his finger into a jar of honey. To remove the honey, he wiped the finger against a pillar, leaving a patch of honey on the pillar.
“It was quite idle of him and also unnecessary for him to do so,” the sage told his disciple as they were about to leave the shed. Further, he added with a sign, “It may lead to an unforeseen consequence.”
“But, revered sage, what is the harm in such an innocent action, even if it served no purpose?” asked the disciple.
The sage looked at the disciple for a moment. He realized that the young man had developed the impression that the Rishi saw cause for fear where there was none! He said, “My boy, let us then wait here for an hour and watch.”
They quietly sat under the shed, keeping a close eye on the shop. Soon a swarm of flies gathered on the patch of honey on the pillar. As the flies fought amongst themselves to gain access to the honey, they attracted the attention of a lizard which was on the wall. Slowly it came over to the pillar and gobbled up some flies with swift motions of its tongue.
The shop-keeper’s cat was lolling on a pillow behind its master. It had not found any occasion to be active for some time. Seeing the bright lizard, the cat sprang up at it and clawed it down to the ground. The lizard tried to escape, but the cat chased it onto the street.
Suddenly a smart little dog rushed at the cat and bit it. The cat gave out a piercing shriek. The shop-keeper hurried down to the street, picked up a massive brick and threw it at the dog.
The dog was injured, and it barked furiously, attracting everybody’s attention to its plight.
The dog was the landlord’s pet. The landlord accompanied by this pet dog, was taking a walk to a friend’s house. He had stopped before the shop to talk to a gentleman when the shop-keeper punished the dog.
Now, it so happened that the shop-keeper and the landlord belonged to two rival communities who used to hate each other. When the landlord found his pet dog injured, he raised a hue and cry, claiming that the shop-keeper had done so deliberately, just to insult him.
In a few minutes, the landlord’s supporters rushed menacingly towards the shop. The shop-keeper shouted for help. His people too were not late in coming to his rescue.
In the meanwhile, an over-enthusiastic servant of the landlord set fire to the shop. The shop-keeper’s friends lost no time in arming themselves with sticks and other weapons and attacked the landlord’s supporters.
A riot ensued. Several thatches went up in flames. It was absolute chaos.
As flames and smoke blinded the sky, the Rishi and his disciple breathed freely for a while in the open. The disciple touched the Rishi’s feet and said, “I learned a great lesson today, my Guru.”